This film examines the burdens of manhood within Islamic cultures. It brings us a new interpretation of David vs. Goliath. The main characters, bravely and frankly, share deeply personal memories and experiences in their effort to highlight and question the role of men in contemporary Islam.
Why does a man in Kuwait, inspired by the 99 names of Allah and the Quranic stories, create a comic and cartoon series about super heroes called The 99? Why does a man in Bangladesh travel from one village to another, educating a community by teaching them to play a board game? Why does a man in Indonesia encourage other men to wear mini-skirts in a demonstration? Why does a man in Turkey belong to a group called Anti-Capitalist Muslims? They all have the same goal – they want to change the dark side of Muslim masculinities in their different cultures. They all want to reform Islam. They are four Muslim Davids opposing cultural Goliaths.
How did it start?
After 9/11, Nefise Özkal Lorentzen decided to make a trilogy about progressive Islam. Her intention was not to defend or explain Islam, but rather to show the different sub-cultures within various interpretations of Islam.
“Gender” was the key concept in her quest into the mystery of Islam. The first documentary, Gender Me, about Islam and homosexuality, was released in 2008. The sequel, A Balloon for Allah, about women and Islam, followed in 2011. Now Integral Film presents her third installment, Manislam, about the power, privileges and burdens of masculinity in Islam.
Manislam is possibly the most important of all three films, but was also the most difficult to make. It is always easier to portray the opposition to power than power itself, and masculinity is inextricably bound to the patriarchal tradition and power within Islam.
We follow Nefise’s journey as she explores Muslim masculinities and reveals how these Muslim men strip themselves from their patriarchal heritage, examining the burdens of manhood within their individual Islamic cultures. She delves into the freedom of men, democracy and equality, violence and oppression, emotionality and male sexuality, often touchy subjects for most men.
Ever since Nefise was a little girl she has been aware of the fact that boys had more privileges than girls. However, these privileges keep the wheels of patriarchy churning, and have not made men, or women, happy. Even though the power of patriarchy can turn pristine oceans into gigantic cesspools by dehumanizing and militarizing masses of men, patriarchy could not stop her quest to find men willing to tell their stories, helping purify and dilute Islam, reclaiming it from current ideals of patriarchy. Through this venture, she learned how to re-build those bridges formally destroyed by gender segregation.
Nefise is an enthusiastic fan of the hero comic and animated cartoon series from the Arab world, called The 99. This comic book based series, an answer to western-styled comic books like The Phantom, Superman, and Batman, was created and designed by psychologist and entrepreneur, Naif Al-Mutawa. Each character in his comics have different super powers, representing the ninety-nine attributes of Allah, as described in the Holy Koran. The characters are also alternative superheroes, being both male, and female, battle injustices around the globe. Nefise sought out Naif Al-Mutawa to discovery whether there exists such a character that fights against patriarchy to liberate men? She asks him, is it possible to find such freedom for men within Islam?
The film, being internationally unique, as this is the first documentary that explicitly and critically examines masculinity within Islam. The film has no intention to be hateful and antagonistic towards Islam, or men as such. With the same warmth and humor that defines Nefise’s other two films in the trilogy, Nefise shows that men, just like women and sexual minorities, need to be liberated from patriarchal values. Nevertheless, it is expected that this film will be controversial, yet sensational enough to inspire a debate, both nationally and internationally. This is a film that, hopefully, both provokes and provides hope for a better world!
Naif al Mutawa (himself)
Ihsan Eliaçık (himself)
Imtiaz Pavel (himself)
Syaldi Sahude (himself)
Abdul Rehman Sultani (himself)
Ismail Yusanto (himself)
Nefise Özkal Lorentzen (herself)
Production Company Integral Film AS
Producer Jørgen Lorentzen
Director Nefise Özkal Lorentzen
Manuscript Nefise Özkal Lorentzen, Jørgen Lorentzen
Cinematographer Asif Abedin (Bangladesh), Nils Petter Lotherington (Kuwait),
Amink Irmawan (Indonesia), Özlem Günhan (Turkey), Audun S. Bratlie,
Nefise Ö. Lorentzen
Editor Inge-Lise Langfeldt
Composer Mercan Dede
Animator Simon M. Valentine
Sound Designer Håkon Lammetun (Lydhodene AS)
Post Production Sound Anders Mørk, Frode Løes Hvatum (Lydhodene AS)
Assistant Director & Assistant Editor Audun S. Bratlie
Online & Color Correction Gudmundur Gunnarsson
Voice-over Nefise Özkal Lorentzen
Norwegian Voice-over Coach Liv Hege Skagestad
English Voice-over Coach Indigo Trigg-Hauger
Mercan Dede’s Manager Alper Altun , Onearth Records Turkey
Mercan Dede’s Technical Sound Assistant Greg Pidcock
Archive Stills “The 99”Teshkeel Media Group
Archive Footage “President Barak Obama’s speech” The White House Broadcasting
DCP Ola Rogndokken, Adrian Nilsen / DvNor
Line Producer Bunga Nizam & Reza Katja
Sound Recordist Radem Anom Prakoso
Sync Editor Doddy Ardiwa
Production Manager Rian Anggara
Camera Rental Anas
1st Camera Assistant Nuansa Ayu Jawa Dwipa
2nd Camera Assistant Muhhamad Arif
Translator Khotimun Sutanti
Line Producer Men Engage Group
Sync Editor Armaan Siddique
Camera Assistant Sharif
1st Sound Recordist Nahid Masut
2nd Sound Recordist Ma. Miznur Rahman
Translator Rezaul Karim Rony
Line Producer Syed Imran Haider
Camera assistant Zeshan Siddique
Sync Editors &Sound Recordists Haji Gul, Ali Najaf
Camera Assistent Hakan Demir
Sound Recordist İlker Eker
Transport Ergin Yıldırım
Camera Rental Emel Çelebi, Zeze film
The Norwegian Film Institute
Workshop ”Route to Forum 2012”
Content Consultant Viken Film Center Sirin Eide
Festival Distribution The Norwegian Film Institute Toril Simonsen
WW Distribution DR Sales Kim Christiansen
The Norwegian Film Institute
Documentary Film Consultants Kristine Ann Skaret, Maria Fuglevaag Warsinska-Varsi
Senior Production Advisor Ola Hunnes
The Freedom of Expression Foundation Bente Roalsvig
Viken Film Center Harry Guttormsen
Norwegian Audio Visual Fund
Integral Film AS
NRK Commissioning editor Marie Sjo
Several newspapers has been writing about the film, and the Director has done several radio interviews.